Companies’ Legal Compliance:
Duty of Care and UK Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007
In April 2008 the UK Corporate Manslaughter Act came into effect. The act introduced an offence for convicting businesses, companies and organisations where there has been a gross failure in preventing a person’s death.
The offence is punishable under the laws of England,Wales,Northern Ireland and Scotland(where it is referred to as “Corporate Homicide”).
The act applies across the UK, including territorial waters, British ships, aircrafts, oil rigs, offshore installations and all the workplaces covered by the UK criminal law.
The UK Corporate Manslaughter Act is aimed at punishing the management systems of companies that do not act according to the Duty of Care towards their personnel. The senior management has to provide the company’s employees with all the means and skills to allow them to operate effectively on the workplace.
With this law, in case of death of a staff member, courts will analyse the management system and practices across the company, prosecuting those who failed to manage properly the safety and health of the corporate personnel.
The prosecutor has to show that without the management mistake or negligence, the death would have not occurred.
Usually a significant part of the failure can be attributed to the senior managers, as they are in charge of making important and substantial operational decisions. The senior level includes centralized and headquarters functions and operational management roles.
Companies should always conduct their business and making their decisions according to and respecting the Duty of Care. This duty relates to the work system and the equipment used by employees, to the conditions of the premises where the company operates and to the products or services sold to third parties.
Companies have to make sure that all the businesses they conduct provide safe and secure workplaces for their employees and corporate staff.
In practice, employers have the legal duty to reassess the company’s policies regarding both the premises where employees operate and the equipment used.
They are also in charge of both the training of the corporate personnel operating in potentially dangerous and hostile environments and the evaluation of the company’s policies on Business Travels.